What is Identity Leadership?

01 Mar 2024
5 min read
Authors – Vedika Jogani

A recent graduate from Ithaca College with a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, specializing in Mental Performance, Vedika Jogani is OMP’s Product and Content Manager.

Ever wondered about the magic behind a team’s success and how effective leaders contribute to it?

The way leaders embody the values of a team can make a significant impact on the team’s inspiration and success.

The influence of a good leader is truly immense and can change the nature and culture of the team.

A study done in the UK in 2023 highlights that effective leaders not only embody the values of the group but also create a shared identity, a concept known as “identity leadership.”

This means that leaders who exemplify and represent the team’s values can inspire their followers. 

The Social Identity Approach 

In sports psychology, the social identity approach says people see themselves as both individuals and part of a group, especially in a sports team.

Identity leadership is when leaders create and represent this shared identity.

When leaders do this, they become part of the group, making their team trust them more, and this trust helps them inspire the team better. 

A series of two studies dived deeper into this identity leadership and its impact on the trust of teammates.

The first study found that when leaders embody identity principles, it directly boosts followers’ inspiration.

These four principles also boost inspiration by building trust in the leader:  

Identity Prototypicality: This involves representing the unique qualities that define the group, emphasizing a sense of belonging. 

Identity Advancement: This principle focuses on advancing and promoting the core interests of the group, fostering a collective sense of purpose. 

Identity Entrepreneurship: It involves bringing people together by creating a shared sense of “we” and “us” within the group, fostering unity. 

Identity Impresarioship: This principle is about developing structures, events, and activities that give weight to the group’s existence and allow members to live out their membership, highlighting the significance of the group.
The study emphasizes how important identity leadership is for inspiring teams and suggests that feeling connected and trusting the leader are key reasons for this. 

The second study found that two aspects of leadership, specifically making the group matter (advancement) and organizing important activities (impresarioship), were connected to how inspired team members felt later on. Interestingly, this link was influenced by how much the team trusted their leader. So, when the leader was seen as trustworthy, it made the athletes feel more inspired over time.  

This study says that when leaders show they care about the team and organize important things, it inspires the team.

Trust in the leader is key for this inspiration.

So, it suggests that if leaders work on these aspects, they can positively impact how much the team trusts them and, in turn, how inspired the team feels.

All of these have ripple effects on the team’s performance.  



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